Magpies and Meadows

Day 3 : Cades to LaFuente and back again!

You know some days you wake up and nothing feels quite right? Your morning tea doesn’t taste as it should, the shower is a bit too cold, the heating too warm, the toaster doesn’t work and things just aren’t quite as sunny? This was my morning. Some folks would say that “I got out the wrong side of the bed” or even that “I was just plain grumpy” but the simple truth was that I was feeling out of sorts.

I made our picnic and we packed our bags and made ready for the day with very little chit chat… I’m guessing Gerry sensed it was for the best. We left later than we intended and headed off back down the road to find the start of today’s walk. As with yesterday we knew that there was a long drive ahead and I was more than a little apprehensive as I’d seen the road on google maps and it looked high and very very bendy… thinking back perhaps this was why I was out of sorts… I knew what was coming!

Typical of my morning, just as we got to the steep section google announced that the GPS signal was lost so it was just us and the road… but as there was only one road we assumed we should just keep going. Up and up we drove, switching left and switching right and wishing and hoping that no other car or tractor came from the other direction. The road was steep and narrow and our poor little car barely left second gear. We passed an old lady bent over her stick, strolling up the hill… a few hundred metres further up we saw a chap trying to catch a calf that had escaped his pasture and was stuck on a ledge beside the road; Gerry wondered if the old lady was the support team coming to help. But we’ll never know as we carried on higher and higher until the road opened up into a valley and instead of mountains and rocks we had fields and high pastures.

One of the frustrations with our camino is that we know we’re driving along the road that we’ll later walk … but there’s nothing we can do to change this and its the price we pay for our ‘there and back again’ camino.

We parked car just outside of Cades. I saw a magpie and as he flew by he dropped a feather; was that a bad omen? (I did say hello and wished him a good day). It was now really quite late in the morning and much later than we had intended… and this bothered me too 😀

We set off. First up and then along and just as with yesterdays walk we agreed not to look back but to save those views for the return trip… it’s actually much harder than you think to stop yourself! We were in a valley and the cliffs soared up around us and below us there was a river. This landscape is amazing and there are so many questions I want answers for. What is the rock? How were these mountains formed? What is on the other side of the mountain? Questions Questions Questions.

Onwards we walked until we found a bus stop. It was lunchtime so we decided we should make the most of this bench and eat. It wasn’t as scenic as the bench outside of Cades but it was a bench. As soon as we took off our bags we were joined by a cat. As soon as we opened the lunch bag another cat appeared… and then another. They meowed and meowed until I relented and broke up a cracker for them. They munched quickly and meowed for more… I thought to myself they must be really hungry as my gluten free corn crackers aren’t the tastiest of snacks! Gerry called one of the cats Ronnie Barker… for no reason at all… but the name stuck and we spoke to him on our return later! But for now lunch was over and we returned to our task.

The sky was blue today and high high above us we could see enormous birds circling. We thought back to the walk from Irun to San Sebastian where we could see the Pyrenees vultures circling overheard and wondered if they were waiting for tired pilgrims; we decided not to dawdle just in case we were on the menu!

I was busy taking photos of the river below when Gerry grabbed my rucksack. I asked him why and he said it was a precaution… he said he’d walked far too many times with me and that me leaning over a short wall was a risk. I scoffed. A few minutes later he asked me to make a note on my phone… he’s decided that he is the official camino poet and that we’re going to have Gerry’s words of wisdom every day… brace yourself!

If you go near the lip
Have a man to stop you tip

I told him it didn’t really make sense and he said it depends on whether you choose to think of ‘tip’ as a verb or a noun… I wasn’t convinced. He scoffed and told me that I didn’t understand modern poetry. I carried on with my photos. He then said of course, you could still tip and I would just be left holding your rucksack?! It’s never dull walking with Gerry!

Onwards we walked and I wondered if my morning had been all wrong because I was grumpy or if I was grumpy because my morning had been all wrong… Gerry ignored me decided to play music.

He knows me well; one of my most favourite songs. Although its not the cheeriest of songs because it’s about death but oh that guitar!

So we walked and listened and played air guitars and just soaked up these glorious views. I kept taking photos of the wild flowers. There are fields and fields of wild flowers, meadows that are a riot of colour. With the mountains in the background I half expected to see Heidi or Julie Andrews come running out to greet us. It’s glorious. The music worked. The spell was broken. Today was a beautiful walk.

We stopped for a cold drink in Quintanilla. The owner was cleaning the seats and tables as we arrived and just as yesterday everyone has a mask; it feels like folks are really taking things seriously and that’s comforting.

After our quick stop we wandered off and up to an old church. It was all locked up and there was no information, just a church on a hill surrounded by fields of wild flowers. Onwards and onwards as the sun rose and the afternoon grew warm until we reached Lafuenta. Such a pretty little medieval village and an old church that was destroyed in the civil war but later rebuilt… it looked pretty original to me!

And that was it. We’d reached the end of the road for us today. There was nothing for it but to turn around and walk back. More music, more idle chit chat, more questions about war and peace and geology. We passed a section that had water was running down the rock face and on to the road. Gerry had said earlier he was going to drink it… I told him that there could be e-coli in the water if cows pooped in the stream higher up… he scoffed and told me “life’s a dice” – I think he’s taking this poet thing too far but for all his bravado he still didn’t drink it.

We stopped for a hard boiled egg and our last cup of tea on a bench overlooking the valley before Cades. There was a little man parked beside a river below us… he was set up for a spot of fishing and Gerry decided he would be happy fishing there each day… but he can see himself living and fishing everywhere!

And that was it. Footsore we reached the car. We’ve walked on tarmac for two days and it’s hard underfoot… a bit of soft grass wouldn’t go amiss tomorrow! We headed home. I was looking forward to a nice cup of tea and Gerry was looking forward to his dinner… Egg and Avocado salad with a little Auvergne blue cheese and some lovely Jersey Royal potatoes that we picked from our garden before we left home… followed by apricots from the village market and the last of our home-made yoghurt. I don’t know why I was grumpy this morning… it was a beautiful walk and the company was quite good too!

15 thoughts on “Magpies and Meadows

  1. If Gerry would just make it:
    “If you have to go near the lip”, then there would be a pleasing rhythm. And it would add emotion to the absurdity of your action and amplify his heroism. Please do tell him “you’re welcome”!!

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  2. Pingback: Swallows and Amazon | Then We Walked

    • It was a good choice to come… we feel safe in our little walking bubble and our apartment. So far nothing major has happened… only the usual 😀 😀 😀

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  3. Great story and quel camino /// ???

    Gerry should try our crosswords – there are lots of meanings of TIP but his definition is even weirder than the compiler of the Times crosswords – and his poetry doesn’t always scan so it sounds like poetic doggerel. I would tip him over the cliff, if I was you…. Gerry (not the editor of the Times crossword).

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  4. Colleen, another entertaining read. Like Annie, I loved the story of the cats. I’m afraid I would have wanted them to walk along with me for a bit.
    I hope you wake on the ‘right’ side’ of the bed tomorrow 😉
    Walk on…..buen camino

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    • I bet you wouldn’t have liked to doggie we met today 😀 😀 but the sun was shining so things were much jollier 😀 xx

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  5. Colleen and Gerry- what a happy duo.
    Obviously very much loved Colleen.
    I guess you’ll never know why you were out of sorts earlier in the day .. maybe poor sleep from tired feet or a bad dream.

    Your opening paragraph is superb. It drew me right in .. then before you even mentioned Julie Andrews , your description of the area had me thinking : ‘the hills are alive with the sound of “dire straits “🤣
    – so when you mentioned JA it was perfect.

    Of course (for me an animal lover and haven’t had a cat around for years now ) that meeting of the “meowers” would have been icing on the cake.

    Just glorious landscape – wish I could transport myself to those hillsides this minute.

    Regarding ‘saving the rear view ‘ for your return walk – you must be very strong. I’m afraid I would definitely look back and risk turning into ‘a lump of salt’ 😂
    I would tell myself that the light would be different on the return .. also I need to use that sort of break on hills to keep me going. It sounds like quite a climb.

    I really enjoyed ‘your day’ too.

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    • haha… yes I never thought of the biblical reference but I’m glad we’re not turned to salt! Gerry is very much a cat lover.. he tries to entice every little feline he meets… he’s not so keen on dogs though 😀 Glad you like the read today ❤

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